Future Of Homeland Security

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Future of Homeland Security

Future of Homeland Security


Forecasting crime trends has similarly led to mistaken predictions based on faulty

assumptions. And like ancient soothsaying, the advice from Herodotus about prediction

holds: acting on prediction without verifying assumptions risks misinterpreting the

forecast (National Intelligence Council, 2000: 56). Like Herodotus, I caution using forecasts, yet support it because it allows us to consider current policies against potential problems in the near future. Before forecasting future trends, I discuss many factors that criminologists think have influenced crime trends at the national level. These factors are important and deserve detailed analysis. Given the limited space, however, I only offer a brief description of each, except for demographics because it is the only factor we can accurately forecast to 2020. By looking at past trends, we may understand the issues that will most likely affect the future. Historic trends reveal crime's variability and show the difficulty in forecasting its future magnitude and nature.

A Forecast For Crime In 2020

So what might we estimate the crime level to be in 2020? The answer to that question depends on how you interpret a vague prophecy from an oracle based on the assumptions you make. According to most experts, crime will slightly rise as the aging baby-boomers continue to dominate the age structure, offending less and eclipsing rising trends in other age groups (Waugh, 2003b: 27). Adolescents in the baby boomerang generation, however, will see a rise in crime, especially violence among young minoritymales because their numbers will swell by 2010, a one percent increase in crime for each year at most. The forecast I offer is based on extrapolating from quantitative data. I forecast future crime trends. When employment rates rise, more people are away from their homes leaving their belongings susceptible to burglary, themselves susceptible to robbery as they travel to and from work. On the other hand, a robust economy, especially one that creates jobs for all workers, would tend to reduce the motivation to engage in criminal behavior, such as selling drugs. Most scholars attribute part of the 1990s crime drop to the booming economy (Waugh, 2003a: 13).

Even so, a robust economy is not simply low unemployment. Although the average unemployment rate was about five percent between 1995 and 2005, businesses have been increasingly outsourcing low-skill manufacturing jobs to developing countries (Waugh, 2004b: 12). Jobs for young unskilled workers have become increasingly low paying service jobs with little or no benefits. If this trend continues through 2020, the motivation for supplementing income through crime, especially for young undereducated men, may lead to a rise in crime even with record corporate profits and stable unemployment rates. Forecasting the economy's effect on crime is nearly impossible for three reasons: (1) forecasting the economy is more difficult than forecasting crime; (2) a robust economy can simultaneously promote and discourage criminal behavior; and (3) quality of jobs is as important as availability of jobs. Thus, we cannot know the economy's state in 2020 or its impact on ...
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